The Detroit Lions picked up eight players in the 2012 NFL draft, all of which look promising. Here is a breakdown of every pick.
Riley Reiff, Offensive Tackle: First Round, Pick 23
Strengths: Reiff has great size (6’6” 313 lbs.) and played multiple positions in college. Reiff will be plugged into the right side of the offensive line immediately while Jeff Backus finishes out his contract. Look for Reiff to be the future left tackle and protect Matthew Stafford’s blind side.
Weaknesses: Reiff needs to improve on his strength and work on his technique. Reiff allows defenders into his body instead of standing defenders with his strength. If Reiff continues to absorb defenders he will be knocked out of his block by stronger defenders.
Ryan Broyles, Wide Receiver: Second Round, Pick 22
Strengths: Broyles was one of the most dominant wide receivers to play college football collecting 349 receptions, accumulating 4,586 yards, and scoring 45 touchdowns. The man is a stat sheet stuffer and will fill the Lions’ need for a fourth receiver. He is the perfect compliment to an already prolific offense.
Weaknesses: Broyles’ only glaring weakness is that he is just coming off an ACL injury. Whether or not he is able to make a full recovery from his injury is the only question surrounding Broyles. The Lions must be comfortable with where he is at in his recovery for them to have made him their second round pick.
Dwight “Bill” Bentley, Cornerback: Third Round, Pick 22
Strengths: Bentley ran well at the combine running a 4.43. Bentley shows good instincts when the ball is in the air and uses his frame well when tackling.
Weaknesses: Bentley is only 5’10” 182 lbs. Bentley struggles when playing man to man and does not play run support very well. Needs to work on footwork if he hopes to see the field on defense this year. Better in zone coverage than press-man so the Lions will have to develop some of his skills to utilize him in the way they like to use their corners.
Ronnell Lewis, Outside Linebacker/Defensive End: Fourth Round, Pick 30
Strengths: Lewis has great pass rush ability and fits Detroit’s 4-3 scheme well. While at OU, he played both defensive end and outside linebacker well.
Weaknesses: Because of his size, (6’2″, 253 lbs.) Lewis is viewed as a “tweener”, a player that doesn’t fit well in either position they play. Lewis can play both linebacker and defensive end well, but he does not excel at either. Gunther Cunningham should utilize Lewis’s unique pass rush abilities well. It should be noted that some felt that Cliff Avril was more of an outside linebacker prospect coming out of Purdue so the Lions are used to working with undersized defensive ends.
Tahir Whitehead Outside Linebacker: Fifth Round, Pick 3
Strengths: Whitehead plays well when defending against tight ends. He is physical when defending short routes. Will excel in special teams while developing his fundamentals. The Lions need dynamic special teams players so he could have an impact relatively quickly in his NFL career.
Weaknesses: Whitehead does not have great size (6’1″, 233 lbs.) and lacks quick burst needed to defend against the run. Whitehead is a project for the Lions but has potential.
Chris Greenwood, Cornerback: Fifth Round, Pick 13
Strengths: Good size (6’1″, 193 lbs.) and is a freak athlete. He ran well at his pro day (4.34) and has a 43 inch vertical jump. He is one the Lions’ best prospects at corner for their roster and should look to compete for the number two cornerback spot. This could look like a brilliant pick for the Lions in a few years.
Weaknesses: Played division III football, hard to evaluate because of competition. Could struggle against top NFL receivers because he played at a small school. How long it takes him to adjust to the NFL will ultimately determine how valuable this pick was.
Jonte Green, Cornerback: Sixth Round, Pick 26
Strengths: Good size (5’11”, 184 lbs.) Has room for improvement in all aspects of his game. Average defender and tackler but will have a chance to compete given the Lions need for solid cornerback play.
Weaknesses: A developmental player who will likely see playing time on the practice squad or special teams. If Green intends to be be an impact player he will have to demonstrate patience and work hard on his fundamentals. Probably has to prove the most considering he is the last of three corners taken for the Lions in this draft.
Travis Lewis Outside Linebacker: Seventh Round, Pick 15
Strengths: Obviously a physically gifted athlete (as seen in picture) has good size (6’1″, 246 lbs.). What stands out when scouting Lewis is his quickness at the snap of the ball. Drops back well into coverage and plays the run very well. Lewis was projected as a fourth round pick and should prove to be a steal for the Lions in a few years.
Weaknesses: Reads plays late at times, does not tackle well when attacked head on. All weaknesses should be correctable. Could eventually be a starter for the Lions, very promising.
Overall the Lions drafted extremely well getting great value and filling holes in their roster. The Lions drafted their left tackle of the future in Reiff, added a complementary receiver to Calvin Johnson in Broyles, and have added cornerbacks to compete for a starting job. The Lions have added depth to their linebacker core and added a multidimensional pass rusher in Ronnell Lewis.